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Network Rail has unveiled a new modular bridge design that has the potential to transform crossings.
The novel circular bridge is set to change the way Network Rail constructs footbridges over tracks.
The environmentally friendly bridge, made of lightweight material, can be installed in a matter of days, and its modern, modular design allows it to be adapted to different locations.
It also includes built-in monitoring to evaluate usage and maintenance requirements.
Network Rail Programme Manager Andy Cross stated, “We were able to take a different approach. This has enabled us to collaborate with a number of small and medium-sized businesses, many of which have never worked on a railway project but have the skills and expertise to bring the concept of a lightweight, low-cost footbridge to life."
“In just 11 months, we created a prototype bridge that is stunning in design, environmentally friendly, and will take days rather than weeks to install, causing less disruption for the surrounding community.”
When it comes to building a new footbridge or replacing an old one, Network Rail currently has only one option: the standard non-station footbridge design, which is heavy, unsightly, and expensive to deliver.
This new design is made of Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP), a lightweight material that is widely used in other industries such as aircraft and automobile manufacturing.
The material is extremely strong while remaining lightweight, resulting in lower transportation and installation costs.
It is believed that the innovative design will be adopted across the country as part of a larger program of work to transform how footbridges are built on the rail network in the future while also providing an appealing alternative to repairing existing crossings.
The project’s next phase entails developing sustainable procurement and construction options, as well as a ramped version of the bridge.
The prototype was built in a test facility in Long Marston, Warwickshire.
The following firms were on the project team that collaborated with Network Rail on the initiative:
- Knight Architects is a bridge architectural firm.
- Jacobs – which provided design assistance
- KS Composite is a UK-based manufacturer whose regular clients include F1 teams and luxury car manufacturers.
- Sui Generis is another UK-based manufacturer that specializes in molded components such as tractor bodies.
- Epsilon Optics is a UK-based company that specializes in fiber-optic monitoring.
- Q-Railings is a glazing company based in the United Kingdom.
- JT Consulting – the Rapid Root foundation system was designed, manufactured, and installed by JT Consulting.